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PatrickT
PatrickT asks:
Q:

How do I motivate my son to reach his potential?

My son is 19 years old and has been out of high school for one year.  He is floundering with no direction and no goals.  I have tried to talk to him about going to college bet he refuses to go.  He is quite intelligent but did not perform well in school even though he has the aptitude.  His personality is quite stubborn and he has his mind set that he does not want to go to school.  I have tried to encourage him to find a vocation such as a plubmer or electrician, but he still seems to completely unmotivated.  How do I motiviate him to want to create a future for himself?
In Topics: Motivation and achievement at school, Alternatives to college
> 60 days ago

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Expert

LouiseSattler
Jun 7, 2011
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What the Expert Says:

Hello and thank you for writing to JustAsk!

It would seem that maybe he needs to talk to someone who can inspire him, such as a mentor or a teacher he liked in high school.  Next, perhaps he would enjoy sampling non-credit courses at a local community college, where the pressure of exams and homework are off and learning is the key.  He can meet others his age and take classes that are of interest to him.  There are a number of computer courses that many enjoy.  Also, community colleges can provide interest inventories to help with selection of a "path".

Another suggestion would be for him to perhaps volunteer his time at local organizations or become involved in national ones, such as Habitat for Humanity.

Good luck!

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Additional Answers (7)

MeGgSs
MeGgSs writes:
Do you know what he did in his free time? If so, try to fine a job that relates to that. If not, maybe thte next time he and his friends hang ask them about him. Or you could even talk with him your self.
> 60 days ago

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hiimmary
hiimmary , Student writes:
It is harder to motivate older kids. Especially teenagers, because their already wanting to be independent. You should research ways to motivate, read phyciatrisyt journals, go to a professional on this stuff. And if you have to, scare him straight. Show him somehow that his life will be better, and happier with a proper education, and positive motivation. There is no straight answer to this. It's going to take alot of chipping at. But I'd say, the best, most effective thing you can do right now. Don't give up on him yet. He is still young, and in his darkest of times will depend on you. I wish you luck. :).
> 60 days ago

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EducationExpert
EducationEx... writes:
This is a giant challenge facing many parents.  It is such a large challenge that our society will face a crisis of what I call "Lost Boys" related to all the young men who do not go onto higher education yet refuse to consider wise suggestions such as yours to consider a trade.
But, of course, you are interested in how you can help your son.  You have to first understand him his deep core motivations.  I know you understand him like a father.  But, you have to understand him also as a coach.  What is causing his paralysis?  What are his motivational triggers?  I wrote a book, "Motivate Your Son" that I believe could help you - and I apologize for pitching it here as the solution - but it directly addresses your question in a comprehensive way.  You can find it on Amazon or you can check our website below.
> 60 days ago

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EducationExpert
EducationEx... writes:
1. Determine his core motivational framework.

Here's what I mean: We all are wired with certain dominant patterns.  Some people want public admiration; some want to feel special; some want freedom; some want peacefulness; some want security; some want to feel significant within relationship; some want to feel they are doing the right thing; and some want to feel in control.  "Dominant" is the key word as each of the motivational triggers listed above are relevant to most people.  But, what does your son really value.  If you are having a hard time figuring this out, provide a personality profiling test that might give insight.

2. Figure out ways to communicate within the framework.

Let's say that your son's dominant motivational framework is the desire for freedom.  Focus on the notion that his lack of motivation will ultimately make his lose freedom because he will have to work in dead end jobs for other people and that he will gain freedom if he motivates himself to build skills, credentials, connections, and other work aptitudes that will give him the opportunity to create his own work world.

3. Find realistic work or school opportunities that could suit him

I am a big proponent of the trades for non-academic types.  So your suggest to consider vocational training is excellent.  With that said, he will still need to build his work character even if he gets on a distinct path.

Good luck,

Daryl Capuano
Author, Motivate Your Son
CEO, The Learning Consultants
> 60 days ago

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cathy_pauley
cathy_pauley writes:
What did you do for your son?  I am now in the exact same position.  My 19 year old son has no interest in anything except hanging out.
> 60 days ago

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Sameboat
Sameboat writes:
I am in the same position (boat) as you are.  I have a 18 year old, finishing Senior year and has no interest in the future, no motivation (since I can remember) and does not finish or follow directions.  His motivation to a certain point and his world revolves around his girlfriend, whom I feel pulls the strings in the background.  However, that is now, does not explain the last 10 years when I felt he had no motivation to complete anything.  He is more interest in laying around and TV then actually getting up (yes TV has been taken away, but does not motivate him to do better).  Been to counselor, diagnosed with possible depression, being treated for that, but still, no improvements, so I question that diagnoses.  counselor gave him an and out saying that with some depression a person has the "I don't give a f&*" attitude.   That is fine and true, we all have had that at one time, how do you work out of that (for each it is different).  We all have been teenage boys and have gone through depression and lack of motivation.
He pulls low "C's" and "D's" in school with no incentive to pull them up.  I have done the shock treatment which works for a very short time.  I have told him I will pay for one semester at college and if he does not receive good grades, then he is out, and out on his own.  Sometimes, I feel that is the only answer for him.  He plays the poor me card, but then pops up when his girlfriend calls (whom she broke up with him once stating she is tired of being him mother).  When he was on the rebound, she came back in his life and we also see that he is dragged down and is not happy.
Sorry, I cannot have a 18/19 year old, not improving himself, going to college or some type of training to better himself, laying around after he graduates.  Life is not free and I have 3 other kids to support who are doing what is asked and taking care of their grades.  Maybe he needs to start thinking about that.  
Finally, one thing I have not seen stated in here.  Military.  Yes, we have conflicts going on, but there are dangers in life everyday.  I use to skydive and people said that is too dangerous, so is driving.  I almost was killed when car cut me off, however, I survived 34 skydives without a scratch.  Military is what changed me, 5 years in the Navy, seen half the world, visited 14 country's, and now the time counts towards my retirement.  There is always something for unmotivated teenagers.   I would rather see college with a degree, but as stated before, the economy does not allow an "adult" to lay around the house all day.
> 60 days ago

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deenamathew
deenamathew writes:
Look for things that can be used as rewards for your child. Make a point of observing what your child likes and enjoys now. And don't take his word for it; he'll tell you he doesn't care about anything  that  nothing matters.
> 60 days ago

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